Lives of the fellows

John McCrae Kilgour

b.7 July 1911 d.22 October 1996
BSc Manitoba(1931) MD(1936) MRCP(1942) FRCPC(1946) FRCP(1978) FACP

Jack Kilgour’s career as a physician was based in Manitoba, Canada. He was on the staff of the Winnipeg Clinic and the Winnipeg General Hospital and was an associate professor at the University of Manitoba. He was born in Brandon, Manitoba, the third of four children of Justice James Frederick Kilgour and his wife Geills (née McCrae), both first generation Canadians with pure Scots ancestry. His mother’s brothers were both doctors. Thomas McCrae [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.485] was professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and had worked with Sir William Osier [Munk's Roll, Vol.IV, p.295] at Johns Hopkins. John McCrae was assistant professor of medicine at McGill and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, until the outbreak of the First World War. While serving both as brigade surgeon and as second in command of the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery, he wrote the influential poem In Flanders Fields during a lull in the harrowing second battle of Ypres. He and Jack Kilgour never met but John McCrae used to write to his young nephew from the battlefields of France, often signing letters with the ‘hoofmark’ of his horse Bonfire.

In the late 1920s the family moved to Winnipeg, which remained Jack’s home for the rest of his life. Before he qualified, both of his parents and his admired uncle Thomas had died; he and his brother and two sisters supported each other over the next few years and remained close friends all their lives.

At the University of Manitoba he took the Chown prize, the University medal and the Manitoba Medical Association medal. His internship and early postgraduate training was at Montreal General Hospital. He followed his uncles into the RCAMC and served in England and Belgium during the Second World War, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel (and taking the opportunity to pass the MRCP examination during his war service). After the war he returned to the Winnipeg Clinic, practising there until he retired. He was appointed lecturer in medicine at the University of Manitoba and subsequently became assistant professor and associate professor. He was on the attending staff of Winnipeg General Hospital and of the Veterans Hospital and was physician in chief at Deer Lodge Hospital from 1957. His principal publications were on hyperthyroidism, myocardial infarction and coronary care, but his medical interests were wide and included responsibility for the medical needs of the local football team. He wrote an early paper on sulphapyridine and, early in 1948, saved the life of a nephew with haemophilus influenzae meningitis by arranging for a supply of the new drug dihydrostreptomycin to be flown to Edinburgh from the United States.

Jack Kilgour was an active member of the Manitoba Medical Association, serving on its editorial committee and professional policy committee and as its representative on the internship committee of the University of Manitoba.

Like his uncle John McCrae, Jack had a lively sense of fun and great skill as a raconteur contrasting with a Presbyterian Scots reserve and dislike of the limelight, a handsome presence and a strong sense of duty and of family ties. He differed in being a mild philistine as far as poetry and history were concerned. He never aspired to the solemn single-mindedness of his uncle Thomas. Outside medicine, Jack’s great loves were his family and wild-fowling, mainly in northern Manitoba. He married Elizabeth Mary Joyce (Betty) in 1939. They had four children.

David Gardner-Medwin

(Volume X, page 279)

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